How to use 'Regenerative Agriculture' to increase soil carbon
I am an organic beef farmer from Etchingham, East Sussex. I run a family farm, where we have been farming using ‘Regen Ag’ for a number of years. Regenerative farmers in this country and around the world are changing the face of farming, by showing how sensitive land management can hugely increase soil fertility, our soil biome health, and our soil carbon stores too.
The key to this is to avoid the mechanical disturbance of our soil. By keeping the ground covered with plant life at all times; increasing diversity of the plants; keeping a living root in the ground all year; and using grazing ruminants in a rotational system to allow appropriate rest periods for the plants, this allows both soils, soil carbon and nature to recover. These are the basic soil health principles which assist in improving carbon cycling back into the ground. Increasingly we are able to show how a healthy soil is the key to the health of all our natural life support systems and farming systems.
On my farm we are experimenting with grazing systems to increase soil health. This has involved putting in electric fence systems and watering points to allow the controlled movement of cattle and sheep across the land. By leaving longer rest periods we have seen an increase in flower species in the pasture and therefore an increase in insect populations, and we expect to see an overall improvement in soil health.
It goes without saying that as organic farmers we try and minimise our use of chemicals, including ivermectins and unnecessary medicines. Instead we use natural forage from field and hedge, to create a healthy, naturally medicinal diet for our livestock.
My understanding of these processes, and how Regen AG can help to change the face of farming has come from the book ‘Dirt to Soil’ by Gabe Brown which I can highly recommend reading.
How farming can help the carbon cycle